New Releases

Explosions In The Sky – Take Care, Take Care
Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, the band’s fifth ‘proper’ album (and first since 2007’s All Of A Sudden…) makes a mockery of claims that the band are mere peddlers of music that has been done better before, either by others or themselves. Suggestions that the band basically deal in the same sonic material served up by, say, Mogwai or Godspeed You! Black Emperor are both lazy and misleading. Sure, there are elements that connect these (and many more) groups, relationships that can be usefully mapped out, but they all have their own distinctive voices. “Voice” is the right word to use here because it is largely the absence of voice (i.e., of “songs” or “lyrics”) that prompts the comparisons in the first place. But to say that one instrumental rock-informed group drawn to lengthy mood pieces is the equivalent of another is like saying that one jazz group is like another, or that composers of classical music are somehow all the same. Read the full review on Tiny Mix Tapes

Emmylou Harris – Hard Bargain
Because Hard Bargain contains enough uptempo material for contrast, the album’s ballads don’t blur together as they have on some of Harris’s recent records, which makes it easier to appreciate them on their own merits. “Lonely Girl” is a stunning mood piece, while “Dear Kate” pays homage to the late Kate McGarrigle, Harris’s longtime friend and collaborator. Though she’s always been known first and foremost as a song interpreter, Harris’s songwriting here is especially sharp. The gently rollicking “Home Sweet Home” boasts an unconventional melody that heightens the song’s overall sense of displacement, while the ballad “My Name is Emmett Till” finds Harris singing from the point of view of the young African American boy killed for violating the unspoken laws of the Jim Crow-era South. It’s the empathy in Harris’s writing and her intuitive, sensitive phrasing that keep the song from becoming maudlin or cloying. Read the full review on Slant

Prefuse 73 – The Only She Sounds
The Only She Chapters sounds inebriated. Each snare hit has a tail of diminishing echoes, and each ping of a sample is followed by a ripple of overtones. The diversity of rhythms is on par, but each one is unfurled at a snail’s pace. Melodies peak around the usual backdrop pastiche, but they are swaying amidst the drowsily nodding tempos. “The Only Valentine’s Day Failure” sounds like a King Tubby 45 at 33 RPMs. The eddying vocal samples of “The Only Serenidad” must have been created with the audio equivalent of a slowly rotating Paint ’n’ Swirl. During “The Only Trial of 9000 Suns”, the late Trish Keenan (R.I.P.) sounds less like the aloof retro-pop princess she was than that confusing final conversation you had leaving the bar with the pretty girl in the tangerine dress. Read the full review on Dusted

Prefuse 73

New Releases

The Decemberists – The King Is Dead
Recorded in a converted barn on Oregon’s Pendarvis Farm, The King Is Dead eschews the high, mystical wailing of British folk for its North American counterpart. Rustic and roomy, the record nods to Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, early Wilco, the Band, Neil Young, and especially R.E.M. In places, it almost feels like a disrobing: “Let the yoke fall from our shoulders,” frontman Colin Meloy bellows on opener “Don’t Carry It All”, his voice loose and easy, freer than he’s sounded in an awfully long time. Read the Full Review on Pitchfork

Cage The Elephant – Thank You Happy Birthday
Having gained notoriety a couple of years back for intense live shows and memorable singles like 2008’s slouchy, sexy “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” Shultz and his pals, including brother Brad on guitar and secret weapon Daniel Tichenor on bass, stand at a crucial juncture. Can Cage the Elephant survive the scrutiny of jaded aficionados who call its drum kit-toppling yet sweet-toothed approach to guitar bashery nothing but a rehash of flannel rock? This set of ripping rave-ups and effortlessly tasty singalongs answers YES, in all caps. Read the full review on LA Times

Madlib Medicine Show 11
Funkadelic, psychedelic, jazz infused break-beats mixing influences and sounds of electronic, soul and a whole lot of Hip Hop – Madlib’s eleventh installment to the Medicine Show series, entitled Low Budget High Fi Music, is a welcomed addition to this multi-instrumentalist’s repertoire of work. With the longest track of the album being 4 minutes and 37 seconds long, the rest of the songs fall in the realm below the 2 minute mark. Each track is laced by Madlib’s incredible ability to capture a motivating groove accentuated by melodies whose instrumentation drives its listeners forward. Combined by great pacing, seamless jumps between tracks (and at other times intentional abrupt stops to melodic flowing sounds), the hilarious skits, commercial-styled breaks, interesting samples and ear-perking interludes excuses the fact that some may be turned off at the length of the entire album (42-tracks long). Read the full review at